For a New Policy Balance
Among the many traumas inflicted by the nightmare of Vietnam has been the realization—for many Americans the shock of recognition—that foreign and domestic policy have merged into a seamless web of interlocking concerns. It is now almost impossible to identify any issue, condition or interest of national significance which is not affected by international trends and circumstances, and which does not in turn affect some aspect of the foreign policy of the United States. For students of public affairs long concerned with both elements of our national posture this may be a truism which hardly bears repeating. However, I regret to observe that most citizens, including most specialists in foreign or domestic affairs, have not yet adapted their insights and prognostications to this integrated view of the world; nor have those of us in public service been effective in foreseeing and planning to deal with the domestic implications of foreign policies, some of them already now in effect.
As a result, much of what is called domestic policy in this country reduces in the main to feverish counterpunching by Federal, state, and local governments reeling under the effects of some foreign initiative whose domestic implications were unforeseen or weighed lightly in the policy balance. This is not to say that many of our problems are not home-grown. Crime, pollution, racial tension, and many other elements of our national malaise would be with us even if the rest of the world disappeared. I would assert, however, that many of our most intractable problems—particularly in the economic sphere—and, even more, our heretofore feeble capacity to deal with the full range of our difficulties, are traceable in large part to a chronic blind spot with respect to the link between foreign and domestic affairs. Until we move to correct it, neither our foreign nor our domestic policies are likely to be commensurate with our potential. We will continue to suffer, particularly on the domestic front, from the disease Tocqueville diagnosedRead the full article on ForeignAffairs.com